Thursday, May 16, 2013

Twin Arches

There are many choices for trails here in Big South Fork National Recreation Area, but some are pretty remote, far into the wilderness. This is where my car  is most appreciated, because without it I would not have driven this gravel road to get to the Twin Arches trailhead.
The Big South Area abounds in dramatic cliffs, rockshelters and natural arches. The Twin Arches are considered to be the largest arches in Big South Fork. 
 All of the trails I've taken have been well maintained.
 This one is lined on both sides with Mountain Laurel, all budded out and ready to bloom.
Making the trail even more beautiful in a week or two.
There are three sets of steep stairs to reach the base of the arches.
 We are walking across the top of the North Arch. This rock forming the lintel is erosion resistant; it's the sandstone beneath that has eroded to form the arches.
Two more sets of stairs between the North and South Arches leads to the base. You have to use the stairs: No climbing or rappelling allowed, just in case you were thinking about it.
 Looking at the North Arch...62 feet high with a 51 foot clearance.
 Standing beneath the North Arch.
There are many other trails that lead to the arches, we came on the shortest one.
 Another view from beneath the arch we just crossed.
There is no vantage point where you can view both arches at once because they are so large. On to the South Arch.
If you could see them both at once, they'd look like this. Both arches formed at about the same time...thus they are truly twins.
 Approaching the South Arch.
It is the larger of the two, at 103 feet high with a clearance of about 70 feet.

 The trail guide says to look for a tunnel through the left support that will take us out to the end of the ridge. Perhaps it is behind those trees...
 I don't see a tunnel, do you?
 Maybe that's it?
 "Open Sesame" didn't work, so I went back to the first spot.
 Going closer, I did see a glimmer of light.
 Looks like a "fat man's squeeze." Good thing I've lost a few pounds.
 Thistle didn't really want to do it, but he reluctantly followed me, since there was no there choice, haha.
 From here we follow the trail around the outside back to the arch.

 Wasn't that fun?
Back on top of the arches, I stopped to enjoy the view while my heartbeat slowed to normal.
 These look like high-bush blueberries growing up here...future bear food.
 A view of distant cliffs.
Next I think Thistle and I will take another drive to a viewpoint on the park's namesake, The Big South Fork Cumberland River. 


  1. You got some great pictures of the rocks and trees. Too bad the mountain laurel wasn't blooming yet. Looks like you are having a fun time.

  2. You sure do bring everyone along on your hikes. Another great job by my baby sister. Love you.

  3. What a great hike. Glad I was able to enjoy it with your photos. Excellent job of capturing it so well.